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about 1 month ago

Need help finding the original letter begging for the surrender of Saigō Takamori, the last true Samurai (1877) : Hej everyone :) You know that feeling when you start something that's way above your head? Yeah, that's me right now.. Basically, in short, I need you guys' linguistic help / detective skills, so please bear with me. About 4 years ago a band I listen to released a song called Shiroyama, covering the "Battle of Shiroyama" ( 城山の戦い), the final battle of the Satsuma Rebellion where the heavily outnumbered samurai under Saigō Takamori made their last stand against Imperial Japanese Army troops under the command of Generals Yamagata Aritomo and Kawamura Sumiyoshi. A few days before the final engagement, Imperial Japanese General Yamagata Aritomo sent a letter to his old friend and now foe Saigō Takamori, begging him to surrender to avoid a lot of unnecessary bloodshed. Forbidden by honor (Bushido) to surrender, the last true Samurai eventually fell to the Imperial Japanese army a few days later, formally ending the era of the Samurai. The book "Baron Suematsu in Europe during the Russo-Japanese War" gives the following English translation of the letter mentioned above As the leader of young vigorous men of the nation and resisting a great and famous army through many fierce battles, your fame is already well enough know to the world. But now most of your brave generals are dead or injured, and your military power is daily growing weaker. It is already clear that as last your Satsuma army is unable to keep its spirit. I don’t know what further things you can hope to achieve, except a hopeless defensive battle. If you, Saigõ, rather than lengthening the rest of your days a little, prefer to cause hundreds and thousands of dead and wounded from both armies, there is nothing that I, Aritomo, can say to you. I beg you to judge for yourself as you hold matters in the palm of your hand, and that you will save both armies from death and injury. Ah, you are a man famous and known in the world. About our national constitution naturally it is not only Aritomo who knows what you really think. But the matter has been settled over many years of public debate. I, Aritomo, earnestly beg you as your old friend. Writing this my tears fall like rain, and I cannot express myself at all. Please sympathise with the sincerity of my pain. Now, this is where my question comes in. As an amateur linguist and a history lover myself (who doesn't speak any Japanese) I'd love to make a video about this letter and its backstory, analyzing it from both a historical and linguistic aspect. The problem is that in order to turn this idea into reality I'll need: A clear picture / pdf / scan of the original letter that'll allow me to copy it by hand / imitate the caligraphy Preferably a transcription in the original orthography (this means using the right hentaigana) Several very kind people helped me out and sent me this japanese transcription which is a supposed transcription of the letter in question (which is way shorter in english). According to them this transcription does use older orthography but does not use any hentaigana (final ん instead of む) meaning this is sadly not a transcription of the original orthography I'm looking for. It's already a lot better than the English though :) They also suggested that a correct transcription can be found in this book although no one knows if this is true. So in conclusion and a TLDR, this is where I'd need your help dear people of Reddit. I'm looking for A clear picture / pdf / scan of the original letter that'll allow me to copy it by hand / imitate the caligraphy. If this turns out to be unfindable I'd love to know who I should contact to acquire such a copy / pdf (as I don't even know where the letter is located). Preferably a transcription in the original orthography (this means using the right hentaigana) or a source that contains this transcription. Hopefully someone out there will be able to help me out. Thank you for taking the time to read this text. Wishing you all the best! Full Article
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